Culture / Art Republik

Jayson Cortez’s Hyperreal Figurative Paintings Exude A Wistful Innocence

Showcasing an ideal of balance realism and fantasy, Postwar & Contemporary painter, Jayson Cortez’s work revolve around ideas of Love, Reality, Mystery, Obsession, and Freedom.

Sep 04, 2020 | By Julia Roxan

Play Ground, 183 cm x 152.4 cm (6 ft x 5 ft), Oil on canvas, 2020

Exploring the innocence, ephemerality, and world of make-believe that only childhood can offer, Jayson Cortez is a Postwar & Contemporary painter, with a flair for meticulously balancing elements of realism with fantasy. His hyperreal figurative paintings which have graced auction blocks at high prices, innumerable times, are revered for their unignorable aura of mystery and deception.

Set to unveil his first solo show in London, Jayson Cortez will showcase a series of eight new works commissioned by Singapore gallery, One East Asia in celebration of its 10th anniversary. The exhibition will take place in the heart of the British capital’s West End at Gallery 8, St. James’s, from 8 to 11 September 2020, and will be opened by the Philippine Ambassador to the UK, His Excellency Antonio Manuel R. Lagdameo. For more information, One East Asia is contactable through Instagram and via

Jayson Cortez’s Hyperreal Figurative Paintings Exude A Wistful Innocence

High Vision

You were born in 1986, you grew up in the Philippines, you started drawing at an early age, tell us about your first steps as an artist?

Like a common child, if my memory is correct, I started drawing at the age of 8 y/o, as I remember copying playing cards like queen and king. Haha, then in my secondary level, I started to draw and learned the basics of oil painting at the age of 16 y/o. Then as a hobby, I took it seriously in portraiture using charcoal, that’s the start of my fascination with the human figure.

London Study 1

The Philippines is a Catholic country where religion is a central pillar of society. How important is religion in your art? What religious references do you like to refer to?

I am raised as catholic , and my mother is an especially devoted churchgoer, in my early works I use it as inspiration, I have produced several series in the past related to Christ and religious subjects. For me, it is also a cultural DNA, other countries have different religions, it shows culture and also affects political views. And I respect different religions as long as it shows good in humanity.

London Study 3

Surrealism and portraits are at the very core of your art. Tell us more about the imagery you are using and the messages you are pushing across?

Surrealism makes me grind my creativity. It keeps me more excited in the process. It gives me more freedom to explore reality. Portraits are my core subject, as a training from my younger age, it is my default ground when starting my conceptual process.

Open Room by Jayson Cortez, 152 cm by 122 cm, Oil on Canvas, 2020.

What is your creative process like? Where do you find your inspiration?

It all started in thinking, conceptualizing, even dreaming, then I shoot some photo references to use for digital study. Technology helps me study quickly and accurately. Sometimes I draw and sketch, because technology has its limitations, it can not replace the raw feeling of my pencil touching the sketchpad for serious sketching and quick doodling.

The default Inspiration starts in myself, my family, and then the reality, the evolving feeling as I age, the emotions and connectivity for my personal views and story.

London Study 6

How close are you to the fashion world? You once mentioned Alexander McQueen and his world of beasts and fantastic creatures as having a vivid influence in your art.

Not so close but i admire designers, the fashion world is exciting, a functional piece of art that is used both by designer’s and user’s to express. In my part, McQueen’s creations inspired me in his unconventional way and surprises, it reminds me of freedom to create.

Free Spirit

The inclusion of roses in your art is quite frequent, what is this a symbol of?

It is the symbol of love and connection. 

Jayson Cortez

What is the role artist play in society? How do you view the current art scene in the Philippines? How important is the space given to artists in modern Filipino society?

I believe what others say is that artists, painters,writers,musicians, etc., are the soul of society. Artists give questions to reflect and in opposite ways they give answers to celebrate, to heal and rest. It makes foot prints or marks for the future.

The current art scene is blooming in the Philippines. Space for artists gives more opportunity, acceptance and respect.

Wild Immersion

Any current or past Filipino artist who has influenced you?

Welbart Bartolome, Ronald Ventura, and Angkiukok.

The Heart

What are five words that best describe your art?

Love, Reality ,Mystery, Obsession, Freedom.


(L-R) : Veronica Howe, Jayson Cortez, Daniel Komala, Welbart. Picture courtesy of One East Asia.

In which city can we expect to see your next solo exhibition?

In Manila.

Open Room 1, 152 cm x 183cm, Oil on Canvas

Can you share with our readers, your favourite Art Museum in the Philippines?

Bencab museum, Ilomoca, Pinto museum.

If you were to name one mentor who has inspired you in your life and path as an artist, who would that be?

Welbart Bartolome.

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